When you’re in the waiting phase of an adoption, there’s not a lot to talk about. We’re waiting, plain and simple. There’s a lot to think about during this time, though, and we definitely have lots of time to think… and think… and then think some more.
I have to admit that my biggest thought – okay, worry – at this point is how we are going to pay for the rest of this adoption. People don’t talk about the financial aspect of adoption very much, but the bottom line is that it costs a lot of money. A LOT. It is all very worth it in the end, of course, but there’s no getting around the fact that adoption is a daunting financial task for most families to accomplish.
We have already paid about half of our agency fees. So that’s good. But there’s another (significant) half to go, and traveling to Ethiopia will not be cheap. So one good thing about our long wait time, I guess, is that it gives us some time to pull more money together.
Since money was on our minds and we were starting a new calendar year, Craig and I sat down last weekend and examined our 2009 finances. We use software to track our expenses, and we pulled up a report that broke down our spending into different categories. We were hoping to see some really obvious places where we could cut down on spending, so that we could boost our monthly savings in a significant way.
We identified a few areas that we can work on, spending-wise:
- Eating out
- Drop Craig’s gym membership (his choice)
- Drop my short-term disability insurance (this makes me feel a little uneasy, but the main reason I added it was to cover pregnancy, and it won’t cover adoption maternity leave)
- Look into getting rid of our home phone line
- More shopping at the big warehouse store to cut down on costs (I despise going to this place, but Craig has promised we will make joint trips, which makes the trips much more tolerable for me)
- Drop a car payment (my car will be paid off this spring – yay!)
We decided we would work on these things through the end of February and then re-evaluate to see how we’ve done. If we haven’t made much progress in spending habits, we’ll set up a stricter budget and see how that goes. We would love to do things like refinance our mortgage, but we’ve called a few lenders and nobody will even talk with us since, thanks to the housing market, we’re way underwater on our house. (Yikes.) So that takes out any notion of a home equity line as well.
One thing we noticed in looking back at 2009 is that we have already made progress in a lot of areas. I lowered our car insurance by quite a bit at the end of the year, and we have greatly reduced fun/extra expenses like buying books and going to concerts. We spent almost no money on things like clothing, and had no travel expenses aside from me visiting my grandmother. If only the dogs would cooperate and cut back on their expenses! (Boy, we spend a lot of money on our dogs.)
In the end, though, these cut-backs are still not going to get us to where we need to be. The bottom line is that I need to be making more money. Craig makes a decent salary, but I do not, especially compared to my earning potential and my law school debt. I have been talking about needing a new job for a couple of years, and I’m now firmly dedicated to the idea that the change needs to happen now. More on that another day.
Another big mutual financial priority for us this year is to take a vacation. We haven’t taken a vacation, aside from visiting family (which is basically free), in three years. But this year is our 10th wedding anniversary and also likely our last hurrah, so we want to take some special time and get away together. I have lots of daydreams over where we’ll go, but we need to save up a lot of money for both the adoption and a vacation before we’ll feel like we can take a trip.
I know everyone has their own financial goals and of course many of you have been through (or are going through) the scenario of financing adoption. So, what have you done to save money? I’d love to hear your ideas!